Tag Archives: spaceship

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So called Baltic Sea “UFO” mystery solved, other questions arise

UFO

In the summer of 2011, Swedish marine explorers looking for various goods from shipwrecks, which sank in the Baltic Sea a long time ago, came across a peculiar discovery. The Swedish treasure hunters’ sonar revealed an extraordinary image: a formation of objects at the bottom of the sea that bears an uncanny resemblance to Star Wars’ fabled Millennium Falcon.

One year later, Swedish divers set on an expedition and took a closer look at the vestige site. In the depths, the explorers found that the site shaped like an almost perfect 60 meters in diameter circle, which mainstream press outlets were quick to stamp it as a UFO landing site, is actually a circular rock formation.

It was “like small fireplaces” with stones covered in “something resembling soot”, according to the team of underwater researchers who dubbed themselves Ocean X Team.

Scientists are still examining the footage from the expedition, but the whole site appears to be a giant stone, “the kind divers see in keys and harbors” — a peculiar formation, granted, but… just a stone. Well, I guess Han Solo didn’t park his ship there after all.

“It’s not obviously an alien spacecraft. It’s not made of metal,” said  Peter Lindberg, the leader of the Ocean Explorer team. The scientist didn’t miss the opportunity to make a little fun of the situation, though . “Who says they had to use metal?” he joked. “This trip has raised a lot of questions.”

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While the whole deal, which was deviously portrayed from the get go by the media, has been freed of its extraterrestrial aura, this expedition raises some intruiguing questions.

For one, the rock isn’t covered at all in silt, which should have typically occurred on the bottom of the sea, Lindberg said. Even more odd for a seemingly natural formation, the main object is disc-shaped and “appears to have construction lines and boxes drawn on it,” Lindberg said. “There are also straight edges.”

Also, “the surface has cracks on it,” said Lindberg. “There is some black material in the cracks, but we don’t know what it is.”

Many samples have been passed on to scientists, and more detailed footage of the site has been promised by the diving expedition. If anything, though, this discovery perfectly illustrates man’s power of fitting patterns together, something that has allowed for one of the world’s greatest scientific discoveries to be made, but which also plunged man in making demented claims.

There’s a thin line between reason and imagination.

via RT.com

Some day, in the next 100 years, Star Trek's Enterprise might pass to the realm of reality.

100 year starship program seeds the future for mankind

Some day, in the next 100 years, Star Trek's Enterprise might pass to the realm of reality.

Someday, in the next 100 years, Star Trek’s Enterprise might pass to the realm of reality.

This weekend one of the most fascinating symposiums of the year will take place in Orlando, Fla, where apparently “nut-case” scientists will seriously take key and discuss subjects like warp interstellar travel, terraforming planets in our solar system and beyond, as well as many other subjects taken off science fiction novels – for now, at least.

The event called the “100-Year Starship Symposium” and sponsored by NASA and DARPA, will host for three days scientists from universities, NASA centers and private institutions who will discuss far-out ideas for building a spaceship to visit another star.

It’s expected that next year, the Voyager-1 spacecraft will become the first man-made object to leave the solar system in an important milestone for mankind. To exit the solar system’s inner boundaries, however, the spacecraft had to travel more than 30 years since it left Earth.

The nearest known star to our solar system is Alpha Centauri, just four light years away. It’s evident, though, that a spacecraft traveling by conventional means will need a lot more than four years to reach its destination, it’s enough to study Voyager.

RELATED: Harvesting gas from Uranus might power interstellar flight

These are present limitations, NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, like to look at the future otherwise, and such have pledged $1 million for funding of the 100-Year Starship Study, which involves contemplating technologies and organizational strategies that could enable an interstellar mission to launch within 100 years.

“The 100-Year Starship is about more than building a spacecraft or any one specific technology,” DARPA officials wrote in a statement. “Through this effort, DARPA seeks to inspire several generations to commit to the research and development of breakthrough technologies and cross-cutting innovations across myriad disciplines.”

Sure, $1 million might seem like a small sum, but considering the outworldly conference and tight budget, it’s still significant.  It’s enough to remember how small initial investments from NASA and DARPRA in the past have ultimately lead to incredible features we use on a 78 day to day basis, such as the internet and GPS technology.

Notable personalities from the scientific and science fiction community present at this weekend’s symposium include Jill Tarter from the SETI Institute and former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, as well as science-fiction authors such as Stephen Baxter, Robert J. Sawyer and Elizabeth Bear.

The mysterious USO (unidentified sunken object) sonar scan. If you look closer, you'll see some trails leading to it. (c) Ocean Explorer/Peter Lindberg

Swedish explorers stumble across the Millennium Falcon beneath the sea?

The mysterious USO (unidentified sunken object) sonar scan. If you look closer, you'll see some trails leading to it. (c) Ocean Explorer/Peter Lindberg

The mysterious USO (unidentified sunken object) sonar scan. If you look closer, you'll see some trails leading to it. (c) Ocean Explorer/Peter Lindberg

Well, I guess Han Solo should be more careful where he parks his spaceship from now, since Swedish treasure hunters just recently found an unidentified object beneath the Baltic seas which portrays an uncanny resemblance to Star Wars’ most iconic of spaceships.

The whole find occured while the Ocean Explorer team, led by researcher Peter Lindberg, were looking for cases of rare champagne through ship wrecks with their sonar. They eventually found something more that they could bargain for – 60-foot disc sunk in the bottom of the ocean, with what appears to be 985-foot-long impact tracks leading to it.

“You see a lot of weird stuff in this job but during my 18 years as a professional I have never seen anything like this. The shape is completely round… a circle”, Peter Lindberg said.

Of course, the whole discovery left a lot of room for speculation, and before you know it there’s been a myriad of blogs and newspapers hailing the USO (unidentified sunken object) as an alien craft. Other, more reasonable, explanations have it that the sonar scan actually depicts a natural formation,  such as the rim of a small underground volcano. The shape is too perfectly round to be anything but man-made, some believe, however – their explination: a sunken WWII battleship turret.

Lindberg has refrained from hypothesizing on what the object could be, perhaps allowing the tale to grow.

“It’s up to the rest of the world to decide what it is,” he said of the item he theorizes “might be a new Stonehenge.”

A tight budget has been keeping the team of explorers from taking a closer look, but undoubtedly considering the hype that’s been built around it, another better equipped team will be sent to further investigate.

I guess people are still waiting for George Lucas’ take on this. James Cameron could do just fine too.

NASA

NASA funds commercial space taxi development worth $269 million

NASAAs the last two shuttle flights will mark the end of a thirty year long program, NASA is looking for alternatives to transport astronauts, cargo and equipment to and from outer space. The best alternative seems to come from the private sectore, and with this in mind NASA has awarded a total $269 million dived among several top aeronautical companies to help speed development of commercial spaceships.

The largest grant went to Boeing worth $92.3 million, which is currently under contract with NASA to develop the  CST-100, a spaceship slated to carry a crew of seven in a low orbit over the earth Boeing officials said they would apply what they’ve learned from building commercial airplanes, satellites and launch systems to build and fly the CST-100 in 2015.

Sierra Nevada Corp got $80 million, while  Space Exploration Technology (SpaceX), the privately held company founded by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, was awarded $75 million. The money will be put to good use by SpaceX by all odds, considering only a few weeks ago the company announced that their currently developing the world’s most powerful rocket. Blue Origin, another company founded by an internet entrepreneur Amazon’s  Jeff Bezos, received a contract worth $22 million.

For NASA it’s imperative to develop a space taxi solution as soon as possible, not only because of obvious logistics consideration but also financially-wise. Currently, NASA has already a lot of flights outsourced to Russia who charge $51 million per person, price expected to rise to $63 per person by 2014.

“We’re committed to safely transporting U.S. astronauts on American-made spacecraft and ending the outsourcing of this work to foreign governments,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

“These agreements are significant milestones in NASA’s plans to take advantage of American ingenuity to get to low-Earth orbit so we can concentrate our resources on deep space exploration.”

The agreement covers work for about 14 months. NASA hopes to follow the program with another competition to develop an actual flight system. The goal is for NASA to be able to buy commercial orbital space transportation services by about 2015.

Japanese spaceship loaded with ISS trash burns after entering Earth atmoshpere

Artist impression of Japan's robotic cargo ship, the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, entering Earth's atmosphere. (c) JAXA

Yesterday, Japan’s unmanned space freighter Kounotori 2, of the H-2 Transfer Vehicle class, intentionally entered Earth’s atmosphere where it crashed and burned after its two months mission supplying the International Spate Station – with it a slew of junk off the space station was dumped.

Attached to the H-2 Transfer Vehicle was also a sensor which measured and transmitted various data back to scientists of the plunging inferno headed straight into the Pacific Ocean. The device is called Re-entry Breakup Recorder, or REBR for short – recorded temperature, acceleration, rotational rate and other data during the spacecraft’s high dive into Earth’s atmosphere. The REBR device didn’t need to be recovered, but data analysis could take 6 to 8 weeks to get successfully processed.

“REBR collected data during the breakup of the Kounotori 2 vehicle and successfully ‘phoned home’ that data prior to final impact,” said William Ailor, Director of the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies at The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, Calif. “In fact, it is still transmitting while floating in the ocean.”

Three paper origami cranes were packed aboard the Japanese cargo ship Kounotouri 2 before being released to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. More origami cranes were distributed both in the Houston and Tokyo mission control centers. (c) ESA/NASA/space.com

In a touching gesture, while the Kounotori 2 was still docked, ISS astronauts tried to share their sympathy for the Japanese people, who are still suffering greatly from the March 11 double catastrophe, by putting three paper cranes in the cargo spaceship they hand made.

“These are our extraterrestrial cranes, a symbol of hope, put into HTV for all Japanese people,” the astronauts wrote in a message accompanying the photos. “We are with you!”

The Kounotori 2 was a freighter operated by JAXA, the Japanese space agency, which is a major player in the $100 billion International Space Station project. Japan built the orbiting structure’s largest laboratory, called Kibo (“Hope”).

The spacecraft was about 33 feet (10 meters) long and 14 feet (4.4 m) wide, and carried cargo inside a pressurized compartment – which astronauts could retrieve after docking – as well as haul spare station parts on an unpressurized pallet to be retrieved by a robotic arm.

“The HTV-2 carried various important cargo, including spare units of the external ISS system and potable water for the crew, which has been mostly transported by the space shuttle up to now,” JAXA President Keiji Tachikawa said in a statement. “I believe that this success proves that the HTVs are reliable transportation vehicles essential for maintaining the ISS, and that Japan, as an international partner of the ISS, is eligible to play an important role for ISS operations.”

This is the second HTV cargo spaceship JAXA has launched, after the equally successful run of the HTV-1 launched in 2009. JAXA’s third cargo launch, the HTV-3, is scheduled for 2012.